Return of the Rings
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 01:09
More than 3,000 students will receive their Aggie ring on Friday — a cherished symbol of a student’s hard work throughout their time at A&M. However, some Aggies have felt the pain of losing their ring and numerous reports have reunited these lost rings with their owners. The power of the Aggie network never fails.
“When people see these rings they know it’s something people treasure and want to find the owner if it’s lost,” said Kathryn Greenwade, vice president of communications and human resources for the Association of Former Students.
When Hurricane Ike hit the shores of Galveston four years ago it displaced many families and businesses. Michael Prather, Class of 1994, was among the many who were relocated for work.
“They sent me to Miami where our corporate office was located to keep the company going,” Prather said.
In Miami, Prather and a group of co-workers went to South Beach to let off some steam. He was carrying his ring along with other possessions in a plastic bag and the ring fell out. Prather didn’t realize it.
“I heard it fall out and I thought it was change,” Prather said. “When I realized it was my Aggie ring I went back to look for it but I couldn’t find it.”
He put out feelers on the Aggie ring website and waited to see if anything would happen, but nothing ever did. In March 2012, a show on National Geographic would reunite Prather with his ring. A Chicago firefighter with a metal-detecting hobby, Ron Guinazzo, was profiled on an episode of “Lucky Muckers.” The camera panned over Guinazzo’s collection and Prather’s ring was sitting there.
“Several Aggies were watching that night because it started a huge chain of communication,” Prather said. “I got a call from the ring office putting me in contact with Joe Merritt, an Ol’ Ag in Alice. He said he saw my ring on National Geographic and had contact information for the guy that had it.”
It turned out that Guinazzo had been trying to find Prather for two years. He didn’t know anything about the Aggie network or how to contact him. Guinazzo had received the ring from another man who metal detects as a hobby in Miami and had exchanged jewelry, cash and Prather’s ring for a ring Ron had.
“I was at the point of buying myself a new one when I got the call,” Prather said. “It would not have meant as much because it wasn’t the one I earned.”
Excited to hear the news, Prather jumped on a plane and flew to Chicago.
“I was speechless and couldn’t believe it had been found,” Prather says. “I put it on my hand and I just couldn’t stop looking at it. It was very special and just shows the power of the show and the Aggie network.”
In the winter of 2000, Angel Tarrant Boyd was in her pediatric residency at Hermann Children’s Hospital in Houston. She arrived home after a 12-hour shift to find her front door open.
“I thought ‘oh no I forgot to lock the door,’” Boyd said. “Then I realized my TV was missing and I started to kick myself. But then I saw the back window was busted and began to trickle through my apartment.”
Boyd’s CDs, stereo and a few pieces of jewelry were missing. The jewelry was in a jewelry box her grandmother had given her, and in it were her high school graduation pearls and her Aggie ring.
“I saw the box on my dresser and thought, ‘Oh good maybe they didn’t take anything in it,’ but when I opened it they had completely cleared it out,” Boyd said. “Police came and said there was nothing they could do but that there was hope since my Aggie ring is very distinct.”
In 2006, Boyd moved to Austin thinking she would never find her Aggie ring. About three weeks ago that all changed. Boyd and her husband, Tom, were in the backyard when the phone rang. It was a police officer calling from Houston and he began to leave a message.
“This is Deputy Les Neely from Houston, and I am trying to reach Angel Tarrant.” the officer said.
The message didn’t even finish before Boyd picked up the phone.
“Have you lost something?” Neely said.
“Oh my gosh did you find my Aggie ring?”
Boyd said Deputy Neely told her she would soon be contacted by Cpl. Mike Lacher of the Harris County Constable’s office in regards to her Aggie ring.
The phone rang again shortly thereafter and Lacher was on the other end. As part of his job, Lacher and his partner work to return stolen property back to its owners. He had found Boyd’s Aggie ring after he and his partner broke up a burglary ring in Houston.
“Cpl. Lacher said he had a hard time reading the name inside because it was so small,” Boyd said. “He contacted the Aggie Network and they helped him get in contact with me. He was very impressed with the help he received.”
A few months later, Boyd was reunited with her Aggie ring just in time for the first SEC game against Florida. She was surprised that it still fit and was in great condition.
“I am very happy to have my ring back,” Boyd said. “The Aggie network is phenomenal.”